Similar to many of my peers, my mind has been set on an obtainable future where I can kick off my shoes and sit comfortably. This idea of comfortability spreads from being filthy rich to the more modest simple living with minimal financial stresses. To the everyday American, these futuristic ideas of comfort seem to be a cultural norm with our without ever setting real goals. With a curious notion, I decided to ask my retired grandpa on his take of what a comfortable future looked like and how it came about by asking questions about his early life.
Born in Pomona May 25, 1953, Ernie Quiroga was raised alongside 9 siblings in a two bedroom house on Grand St. We began our interview, after a few questions I realized that his perceived view of the present, in his youth, differed greatly from my own teenage years and that his ideas for the future were almost nonexistent. He took my preconceived notion of looking toward the future and popped my bubble.
Q: How would you describe Grand neighborhood?
Ernie: “It was a mostly Hispanic neighborhood, a typical Mexican barrio. It was a friendly place to grew up.”
Q: How would you describe your childhood and teenage years?
Ernie: “When I was young it was just going outside and playing hide-and-seek and kick the can, playing with friends from morning til night. We were never inside. Being a teen was a time for looking for work. All we wanted to do was work. Everyone want to find a job because there was no money.” He then added, “We wanted money to buy clothes, go to the movies, to take the ladies out to eat.”
Q: Can you describe the “we” you were referring to earlier?
Ernie: “A mixture of siblings and friends, I don’t know if you want me to say gang members?”
Q: Did being in a gang give you a purpose, did you see a future in it?
Ernie: “I keep asking myself that, there was no point. It was more or so to show who was tough by getting into fights with rival neighborhoods, no real purpose. We had no visions of the future ever, most of them are dead.”
Q: What about your parents, what were their expectations of you?
Ernie: “Nothing, everything we knew was work and survive.”
After getting an image of his upbringing, it was time to dig in.
Q: What do you define as getting to kick off your shoes and sit comfortably? Are you living it now?
Ernie: “Having enough cash to survive. Yes, I get to go camping, gamble and sit down and drink beer. I am even planning to go on a vacation, just haven’t gotten around to it. This is because I am still trying to find around to it.”
Q: At what age did you start to imagine this idea as a possibility?
Ernie: “ It wasn’t until my late 50’s and my back started hurting. When I was young I didn’t think about the future because all I focused on was work work work. You worked until your body gave out, we were afraid to retire because you worked so hard for so long. But I was lucky enough to land a job that helped me retire properly.”
Q: Is there any else you would like to add?
Ernie: “No, but if my movie makes you rich, you owe me half.”
As someone who is constantly thinking about the future, I was thrown for a loop. Our different up brings may be a large factor in what we hold important in the present. It was evident that my grandpa lived in a time where only survival was most relevant. I’ve grown up in a culture privileged enough to imagine a bright future, but at the same time has this crippled me from appreciating the present?